The catastrophic story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Hamlet is a play by Shakespeare’s that narrates the catastrophic story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Hamlet is the son of the late King Hamlet and Queen Gertrude. Following the king’s death, Hamlet’s Uncle, Claudius becomes king and marries Gertrude. There is tension in Denmark due to the imminent invasion by Norwegian forces led by Norwegian Prince Fortinbras. Hamlet is already having trouble coming into terms with the marriage between his uncle and mother when his confidants alert him that the ghost of his father had been seen. Hamlet’s touches of melancholy are disturbing his uncle and mother, which prompts them to send his close friends to check on him. Hamlet realizes that his close friends are spying on him and therefore decides to find new friends. Hamlet resolves to find his father’s ghost, and when he succeeds, the spirit tells him,“ Murther most foul, as in the best it is; But this foulest, strange, and unnatural.” In this speech, his father’s ghost tells him that he had been murdered and later goes on to urge Hamlet to his avenge his death. Hamlet is having horns of a dilemma on whether to believe the ghost. He decides to conceal the truth by feigning madness. His madness is evident during his conversation with  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern where he says “The body is with the King, but the King is not with the body (23–24)”. His new persona influences his interactions with other characters and results in many deaths. In the end, his mother and uncle die, and the Prince of Norway succeeds in his invasion and assumes the throne.

Authors describe character traits either or through dialogues, figures of speech and characterization. For instance in Hamlet, the main character is Hamlet. He is described as depressed, socially withdrawn, manipulative, intelligent, psychological, Indecisive, dramatic and a procrastinator. Shakespeare uses soliloquy to describe   Hamlet as depressed, which is evident when  Hamlet is wondering ‘if we only live to die’. In this case, soliloquy has been used to describe his character by revealing his inner thoughts.  Moreover, soliloquy has also been used to show his dramatic nature, which is evident from his intentions of exposing Claudius impropriety in the most dramatic way.  Furthermore, Shakespeare uses monologues to shed light on Hamlet’s philosophical nature. For example, in one of his monologues, he questions life, “to be or not to be”..

Moreover, his actions have been used to illuminate his character. His actions, such as feigning madness and acting dramatic, clarify his manipulativeness. He uses his madness to justify his mistreatment of Ophelia. Moreover, his abuse of Ophelia is a clear indication that he was gloomy and probably disturbed. Besides, his actions reveal he is a procrastinator, which is evident when he delays killing Claudius. Furthermore, his dialogues with other characters have been used to reveal his philosophical and intelligent nature. For instance, during his conversation with Gertrude where he says, ‘’’must be cruel to be kind’.

The style used to describe characters in plays differs from that in a dramatic poem. While it is possible to draw character traits from actions and dialogues in plays, it is quite impossible in dramatic plays since they are typically a one-person speech. Therefore, character traits are derived from their speech. A good example of a dramatic poem is  Sonnet 73  by Shakespeare, that explains the beauty of nature. The speaker, who also happens to be the main character,  is described as middle-aged, anxious, prone to nostalgia. In the poem, Shakespeare represents the speaker as anxious by using imagery such as “When yellow leaves ”, which reflects his inner worried feelings.

Furthermore, Shakespeare uses personification to show that the speaker is prone to nostalgia, which is evident when the speaker says “the ashes of his youth”, where the speaker recounts the passing of time. In addition, the speaker is depicted as one with disturbing thoughts from the use of metaphors such as “In me, thou see’ st the glowing of such fire/That on the ashes of his youth doth lie”.

Conflicts in plays and fictional works are essential since they direct the plot while also developing characters. In the case of Hamlet, the central conflict is  Hamlet’s need to avenge his father. In his quest to avenge his father, Hamlet has to overcome his internal conflicts such as scepticism, cowardice and procrastination. Internal friction is also evident in Claudius as he tries to come to terms with his murder of the king.  This internal conflict typically occurs when the character’s ambition is at odds with his nature.

Furthermore, conflict is caused by the introduction of other characters. For instance, Laertes, a minor character, challenges Hamlet to a duel by combat to avenge Polonius’s death. In the contest, Laertes conspicuously uses a poisoned sword which heightens the tension in the play. Moreover, Hamlet’s close confidants, who are minor characters,  turn out to be spies, which brings out the notion that the stacks are against Hamlet hence escalating tension. Also, there exist numerous obstacles to Hamlet’s goal. For instance,  the marriage between his mother and the enemy is an obstacle in his quest for revenge. This conflict of interests introduces suspense to the plot.

Moreover, Shakespeare created the main characters with opposing goals and values. While Hamlet’s main ambition was to avenge his father,  Claudius wanted to be king. However, the two main adversaries are described as ambitious and willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want. For instance, Hamlet vows to do whatever it takes to avenge his father, while Claudius kills those he claimed to love.

In the play, Shakespeare resolves the conflict by eliminating the antagonist Claudius. This comes after Gertrude dies, and Hamlet finally exerts his revenge on Claudius. The ending of the conflict is also marked by the invasion of the Norwegian forces and the Norwegian Prince assuming the throne.

Sonny’s blues is a fictional novel that narrates on the troubled relationship between two brothers, Sonny and his older brother. Sonny is arrested for possession of heroin. His elder brother learns of his arrest but is at first hesitant to write to Sonny in prison despite being brothers. Sonny is eventually released from prison and go on to live with his brother. During their stay together, the narrator reminisces on Sonny’s youth and thereafter develops a sense of responsibility towards his brother.

James Baldwin created conflict in the novel by creating main characters with different opinions and goals. For instance, while Sunny wanted to be a musician and join the military, his brother wanted him to move in with him and later complete school. Besides, the author introduced conflict by creating Sonny’s character as rebellious. Sonny did whatever he wanted, which is evident when Sunny stopped attending classes, causing an altercation with his guardian.

The novel also illuminates the internal conflicts within the characters. The author managed to bring these conflicts into perspective by denoting the thoughts of the characters. For instance, we are exposed to the thoughts of Sonny’s brother when he is in a dilemma on whether to get in touch with his brother(p.93-97). However, the author finally resolves the external conflicts uniting the two brothers, which is evident at the end when  Sunny finally speaks out and later invites his brother to his music performance.

The use of figurative languages such as puns, similes and allusion is important in writing since it enables readers to draw a mental picture, evoke emotions, create mood as well and adding a humorous effect. In  Hamlet, puns have been used to generate humour, which is evident in Act 1 when Claudius asks Hamlet, “How is it that the clouds still hang on you” In essence, Claudius wanted to know why Hamlet was depressed. In response, Hamlet says, “Not so, my lord, I am too much I’ the sun,’ is a pun on the word ‘son”. Hamlet’s response is a pun intended to express his discontentment towards the marriage between his uncle and mother.

Metaphors have been used widely, in Hamlet making it poetic. For instance, in the first scene of Act 1 when Horatio sees the sun rising, he says, “But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, / Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.” In this case, Horatio personifies the sun to a person wearing bronze-coloured attire who is walking towards the distant horizon. The use of direct metaphor is also evident at the closing scenes of Act II when Hamlet calls himself “a peasant slave”, to depict his inner feelings of unworthiness.

In effect, the uses of figurative language in fiction writing compare to that in plays. It brings out poetic beauty as well as engaging readers with deeper meanings. In Sonny’s Blues, metaphors have been used to accord a deeper meaning to the text. For instance, the scapegoat metaphor, represented by music, has been used to depict pain and suffering as well as the need to understand other peoples problems. In effect, Sonny’s blues music has been used to symbolize the sharing of misery through brotherhood. Moreover, the allusion of the Old Testament as the “cup of trembling” pivots the main idea of the text –  the importance of brotherhood.


Abrams, M. H., & Greenblatt, S. (1993). The Norton anthology of English literature (Vol. 2). WW Norton.

Glucksberg, S., McGlone, M. S., Grodzinsky, Y., & Amunts, K. (2001). Understanding figurative language: From metaphor to idioms (No. 36). Oxford University Press on Demand.

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